Psalm 102 is a lament of tragedy and is a common format of psalms. A lament is a prayer of the afflicted when he is overhwhelmed and he pours out his complaint before God. A number of the psalms take that path. There is often a common structure of those psalms according to Anderson:
- address to God,
- confession of trust,
- words of assurance,
- and vow of praise
Certainly this psalm follows this path for the most part. The psalmist begins with his address to God. “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you”! He approaches the throne with humility and respect.
But then the writer makes it clear he is going through some tough times. Life is not going as expected. He pleads with God to hear. “Do not hide your face from me….Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily”. The writer is in the middle of a crisis and wants God’s help. He goes through a long list of how life is, and it isn’t pretty.
- “my days pass away like smoke
- my bones burn
- My heart is struck down
- I forget to eat
- my loud groaning
- I am like a desert owl
- I lie awake
- I am like a lonely sparrow
- I eat ashes
- I wither away like grass”
Things are not going well. There is physical, mental, social and spiritual challenges that are causing much pain. The cry is deep for God to help.
The author knows that his prayers are not being made to a God that is not able. “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise”. This isn’t a question of whether God is able, but whether God is ready to act. It’s about timing and asking God to take action now. The writer is confident that God will answer and take control. “Nations will fear the name of the Lord”. The victory is His, and it’s a matter of time before God makes that clear.
“For the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory”. He takes care of His people. He answers prayer. And when He does, we need to make sure His faithfulness is recorded and taught. “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord”. Our job is to make sure we tell the story of God’s faithfulness to the next generation. God is faithful. He is always good. He is in control. “You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands….your years have no end”. There is no shortage of stories to tell. God’s faithfulness extends from creation. We’re part of His eternal story, and we need to be sure to record our chapters in His story!